Lightning strikes are a common threat in Colorado, especially this time of year. Now new research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder shows the majority of lightning deaths happen during outdoor leisure activities.
The details of the research were released during what just happens to be National Lightning Safety Awareness Week.
When it comes to lightning deaths, people usually think of golfers, but the new National Weather Service study found fisherman to be the most vulnerable.
This time of year outdoor activities become a target for lightning strikes.
“We get about a half-million cloud-to-ground strikes a year in Colorado,” Robert Glancy with the National Weather Service said. “The problem is any one of those strikes can be a deadly strike.”
Fishing guide Chad Pettrone knows the risk.
“I know a couple of people who actually have been struck by lightning,” Pettrone said.
But when one’s livelihood depends on good weather, some fishermen play the odds.
“Most of the time we go rain, storm, shine, sleet, hail, snow; we’re out, we’re like the mailmen, we deliver fish in all conditions,” Pettrone said.
Fishermen top the list for lightening death activities in the U.S. followed by campers and boaters. Experts say what makes those activities the most vulnerable is their location.
“They are the farthest away from any kind of suitable shelter,” Glancy said. “The best shelter with the respect to lightning is a building or a metal-roofed vehicle.”
At the peak of outdoor activity season weather experts want anglers to know the risk and plan ahead.
“A lot of it is being proactive as opposed to reactive, so plan ahead. (If) you see the building storm get out of the boat, get off the beach, get into a vehicle or into a building,” Glancy said.
Lightening can strike from 10 miles away, so if you can hear thunder, you’re in danger of being struck by lightning.